Leonardo da Vinci and Perpetual Motion

Can one have perpetual motion? The search for the perfect machine, which would work with total efficiency and be self-sufficient ad infinitum, occupied natural philosophers and engineers from the Middle Ages onwards. Leonardo has a central place in this centuries-old story. He tried to ascertain if it were possible to construct perpetual motion machines but he drew the conclusion that perpetual motion cannot exist in nature. The quest of perpetual motion was proved impossible in the second half of the 19th century by James Clerk Maxwell’s studies of thermodynamics, yet Leonardo was the first to state its impossibility, over three centuries earlier. Key drawings of perpetual motion devices from Leonardo’s notebooks will be featured alongside actual models of some of those machines. Animated images and virtual models will allow visitors to “watch” Leonardo’s most ingenious solutions and follow his reasoning step by step.

Exhibition Dates

10.10.2019 – 12.01.2020 Florence, Museo Galileo


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